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2nd December 1967:  Celtic v Dundee United – League

27th November

Even two days after the match, the press was still going on about how well Raith Rovers had played –

 

Celtic Won’t Find It Tougher

 

Fortunately, though, further down from the headline, the report did give the players some praise, saying that we had coped with the Raith attacks pretty well, although I was also delighted to read one other comment

‘there is no doubt that the absence of Craig is not helping the defensive situation and further forward, the pace of Lennox is badly missed’.

Under the heading  – A Happy Man – we were given some information on the problems of another Celt;

‘Bobby Murdoch, the Celtic right half who was sent off in the European Cup tie against Dinamo Kiev on 4th October, reported to a meeting this morning with the Referee Committee of the SFA.

Murdoch looked a worried man as he arrived for the meeting just after 10am but one hour later, he was almost bouncing down the stairs. “I have been severely censured” he announced “and you could say that I am a very happy man”.

 

Apart from the injured ones, which still included me, the rest of the squad was given the day off. I worked pretty hard and was feeling better, as was Lemon, another victim of that South American virus.

 

28th November

Everyone back to training, so Barrowfield was a crowded place. Long runs, short runs, passing, shooting then a match to finish with the two usual teams – the ‘Bibs’ and the ‘Non-Bibs’ – taking part in what was sometimes an 18-a-side contest, with a maximum of only two touches allowed. It was the hardest – and quickest- match of the week and we all looked forward to it.

An Aberdeen party of 15 players plus management and directors left Dyce Airport for Belgium to play Standard Liege in a second round first-leg tie in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Ferencvaros of Hungary in Budapest in the first leg of a 3rd round tie in the Fairs Cities Cup.

 

29th November

The previous evening, Rangers had been beaten 1-3 by FC Cologne but the late away goal – scored by Willie Henderson in time added on – made the aggregate score 4-3 in favour of the Light Blues.

As you might imagine, it was a result that delighted Rangers fans all over the world but judging by the headline in one of the West German papers, not everyone thought they deserved to go through

Lucky Rangers

 

Back in Glasgow, it was just another day at Barrowfield, with now fewer players on the treatment table. It had been a while since we last had a full week’s training and everyone was feeling good, although there were the usual complaints about sore legs and knees. One of Neilly Mochan’s special strengths was that he seldom listened at a time like that; even back then, it was called ‘old school’ but it sure made his job a lot easier.

Later that night at Easter Road, Hibs pulled off an amazing result. 1-4 down from the first leg in Italy, they hammered Napoli 5-0 in the home leg to go through to the 3rd Round of the Fairs Cup on a 6-4 aggregate.

 

30th November

Not much information was being given out to the press that week about the injured ones. We could tell that by the fact that the papers were full of other stories, like the Hibs comeback or the interview by Bob Kelly for the BBC in a special programme to celebrate St Andrew’s Day. Mr Kelly traced the history of Celtic from its foundation through the early days.

 

There was one other story which caught the eye. Under the heading;

Now Spurs Know How Celtic Felt

…….the report gave some details of the match the previous evening, when Tottenham Hotspur lost 0-1 to Lyon in France. The result was disappointing enough but what was worse was that the match degenerated into what was effectively a punch-up, with several Spurs players suffering some damage.

 

1st December

It was announced that the team to play Dundee United would not be announced until tomorrow. I, for one, was annoyed when I heard that. I had just volunteered for one of Neilly’s special fitness test – you know, the one behind the goal where you sprint from bib to bib at his command – and came through it –if I may say so – superbly; in fact, Neilly, plus the Boss, who was watching, said that I was probably the quickest at doing this particular test. But the Boss refused to say anything about my chances of a game.

I think he was being advised by ‘Fitsy’, who could be very pessimistic sometimes, probably to compensate for the optimism demonstrated by players in general where injuries are concerned. They always want to come back as quickly as possible.

 

Everyone was pretty confident of our chances the following day. However, there was a piece in one of the evening papers which might have made every Celtic fan think a bit;

‘Tomorrow Celtic entertain the only club to beat them in the league last season. The club has a date with danger; for they cannot boast an unbroken of success against Dundee United – even at Parkhead.

The fact that Jim Craig and Bobby Lennox are doubtful does not help – but Jock Stein has so many first-class men under his command that I think they will pick up full points’.


2nd December 1967 Celtic v Dundee United League – Report

 

Morning of the Match

It was a non-provision of food day so we came in just over an hour or so before the kick-off, having taken on our provisions at home. I was a bothered man that morning. Something – I know not what – was nagging at my mind, telling me that I was not in the side. I could not get rid of the thoughts and must have been a fairly quiet team-mate to everyone that morning.

Right on cue, just as I was wondering if the Boss was ever going to announce the team, he did…and I was not in it again. He must have seen something in my facial expression, as he motioned for me to go outside and then joined me there, taking me into his room. He explained that they were all very pleased with the way I was progressing but the Doc had mentioned (I knew it!) that a virus can take some time to leave the system and with the way I played requiring 100% fitness, he was going to give me another seven days of training and I would come back in against Hearts next week.

I was disappointed but appreciated the chat and the reasoning. Now, it was up to me to take advantage of the extra seven days.

 

The Teams

Celtic

Simpson
Shevlane, Gemmell
Murdoch, McNeill, Clark
Johnstone, Chalmers, Wallace, Auld, Hughes.
Sub: McBride

Dundee Utd

Mackay
Miller, Briggs
Wood, Smith, Gillespie
Seeman, Rolland, Hainey, Graham, Wilson.
Sub: Berg

 

The Opposition

At that point, Dundee United were lying in 6th place in the table, with a record of P12, W4, D5, L3, F18, A25, Pts13.

 

The Play

From my position in the stand, I thought that we started quite brightly. Still, that did not mean that United retreated into their shells, far from it. They would just do the defensive routine when we attacked and then come forward to put our own defence under the cosh. As the first half went on, our guys probably had more of the possession but when the Arabs did get it, they could cause some problems, with old-timer Davie Wilson, nominally at outside-left but obviously having been given a roaming brief, showing his class.

In different circumstances, it might have been funny to hear the older supporter, who had suffered through the years of the early 60s when Davie Wilson was a constant thorn in Celtic’s side when with Rangers, complaining that he was now doing again..and with a different club.

 

I was not in the dressing-room at half –time. Instead, I retreated to the tea-room, where I was well attended to by the serving ladies, the tea and cake both excellent. However, I heard from the guys later that the Boss was in top form at the break and not a happy man, complaining about a number of matters, sparing no one but being particularly critical of the defence.

 

Things did not start any better in the second half and halfway through, matters became even worse for Celtic –

73 minutes
Ronnie had been forced to make two fine saves from Davie Wilson but this time his left-foot shot was quite unsaveable. 1-0 United

The small coterie of United fans were delighted and raised their voices, hopeful that this would be another of the days when Celtic were put to the sword. Their happiness, however, only lasted for a minute –

74 minutes
a hard shot by Chopper came back off the keeper to Stevie whose own attempt hit Donald MacKay again and re-bounded back to Chopper, who made no mistake second time round. 1-1

Thus endeth the football…..but the boxing soon started. 16 minutes from the end, Chris Shevlane came off with a leg knock, Wispy went to right-back and Joe McBride came on.

Almost immediately, the relationship between Wispy and Davie Wilson became fractious and when Wispy clattered Davie off the ball in the 84th minute, referee Mr R. C. Greenlees, who had not seen the incident but had spoken to Wispy earlier in the match for rough play, accepted the advice of his linesman and sent Wispy off.

It had been an interesting week for Mr Greenlees. Nine days previously, in a match at Ibrox, he had ordered off Alex Ferguson of Rangers and Colin Stein of Hibs; now it was the turn of Willie Wallace of Celtic to be sent to the pavilion.

At the whistle, it was still a drawn game, with the United fans certainly the happier. A comment in one of following day’s papers was very relevant;

‘If Rangers, now four points ahead, succeed in wining the championship, Celtic may look back on the point they dropped in this game as the most important one to get away. At all events it was not an afternoon on which the club will reflect with any great pleasure!’

 

Other Results

Dundee 3 4 Partick Thistle
Dunfermline 6 0 Stirling Albion
Falkirk 2 2 Aberdeen
Hibs 0 1 Morton
Kilmarnock 3 2 Hearts
Motherwell 2 2 Raith Rovers
Rangers 2 1 Airdrie
St. Johnstone 0 2 Clyde

 

Table

Team P W D L F A GAv Pts
Rangers 13 11 2 0 24 7 3.43 24
Celtic 12 9 2 1 32 6 5.33 20
Hibernian 13 8 1 4 30 18 1.67 17
Hearts 13 7 3 3 27 23 1.17 17